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Senior dogs are extremely sweet and loving, but they need a little more care and attention than their younger counterparts. The age a dog becomes considered as a senior can vary depending on size and breed.
In some cases, it can be a simple case of keeping an eye on them and noticing changes as they age. Some dogs may be referred to as senior at age 7, for instance, while others may not become officially seniors until around 9.
It’s worth bearing in mind that things can change quickly as dogs get older, so it’s always worth keeping a close eye on them.
Below, we have some natural ways you can make your senior dog happier, along with some tips we picked up from our Ginger girl, who lived to be 15 years old.
Maintain A Healthy Diet For Your Dog
A healthy diet is imperative for a senior dog. You can still give them occasional treats, but don’t go too crazy because you feel sorry for them or want to spoil them.
This could actually make things worse in the long run, especially if they are less active and struggle to maintain a healthy weight. Plus, it can lead to some yucky gastrointestinal issues.
I remember one Thanksgiving shortly after Dan, Ginger, and I became a family. We drove to visit his family, and Ginger was always everyone’s favorite.
She was also a sneaky beggar, which led to pretty much EVERYONE giving her their leftovers. Including our tiny niece, who pretty much gave her an entire Thanksgiving dinner plate.
Now, Ginge was a solid girl and super healthy. All that food luckily didn’t have any long-term effects, but it sure made for a horribly stinky, gassy ride home the next day!
Too much fatty food can also lead to issues like pancreatitis, so it’s best to keep the human food to a minimum. That doesn’t mean you can’t spoil them with healthy options, though! I make dog food in the Instant Pot and the pups think it’s the BEST. THING. EVER! Get our recipe here.
Ask your vet for advice if you’re not sure what to do, and make sure you keep toxic foods like chocolate, xylitol (SUPER DANGEROUS) and garlic and onion well away from them.
Give Your Dog Essential Supplements To Boost Their Health
There are a few vitamins and supplements you should consider investing in if you’re going to make life more comfortable for your senior dog. For example, supplements to help their joints can make it easier for them to move around.
Glucosamine is hugely beneficial for senior mobility. It helps rebuild and maintain the cartilage in your dog’s joints. This minimizes inflammation and makes it easier for them to move around.
Take Your Dog On Regular Short Walks
Taking your dog on regular short walks is a wonderful way to keep them healthy and happy. All dogs, and especially senior dogs, need to stay active to stay healthy.
Dogs love going out and sniffing the area for changes and they need it to keep their minds active.
Try taking them on a couple shorter walks per day, nothing too strenuous. You can potentially take them on longer walks if you feel they can handle it, but make sure you go at a pace that is comfortable for them, and take a bottle of water just in case.
Find Ways To Keep Things Interesting For Your Dog
Many senior dogs love being around people, but can’t quite handle long trips. If you have a small pup, you could take them on more family outings in a carrier.
Have a bigger dog? Set up a cozy wagon with a bed for them for when they tire out. Taking them on special days out will make their later years far happier and more fulfilling.
Make Small Changes To Make Your Senior Dog’s Life Easier
Making small changes to make their lives easier is something your senior dog will truly appreciate. For example, you could get a raised food and water container, allowing them to access them more easily.
These are great even for younger dogs as it aids digestion. We love IRIS Elevated Feeder, and have used them for all our pups (plus a couple Roxy & Rico grew out of that I keep for future puppers!). Plus, their customer service is great and sent us new handles when ours broke in a move and Rico learned how to push it open!
We also added a bunch of rugs on our laminate floor. It helped Ginger move around a lot easier, especially once she became a Tripawd after being diagnosed with leg cancer. It gave her a bit more cushion and stability, which helped her get around more.
Keep Their Minds Stimulated
Don’t forget to keep your dog’s mind stimulated. Hide treats for them and get them to find them. Play games. Dog puzzles are perfect for senior dogs, and helps keep their cognitive abilities up. Here’s a list of our favorite dog puzzles.
Show Them Plenty Of Love And Affection
Finally, make sure you show your senior dog plenty of love and affection. Pay attention to when they would like some alone time, though, as senior dogs may need some on occasion. Have a safe, cozy, quiet area for them to get some rest when needed.